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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Carl Vogt   7 August [1867]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Aug 7.

Dear Sir

I thank you very sincerely for your kind present of your Mémoire sur les Microcéphales, which I had intended ordering for I had received from M. de Quatrefages his report.2 I have not had time as yet to read the work, but I could not resist carefully reading the Chapter on Genèse, & it has interested me extremely,3 It is really curious how closely we have considered the same classes of facts, & have come to similar conclusions about atavism &c. The proofs of my chapter on this subject are corrected; & this I regret for your admirable illustration of the Aphis had not occurred to me, & I should have much liked to have quoted it from you.4

I am sure I shall feel deep interest in the whole work.

With my best thanks & sincere respect, I remain | Dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Carl Vogt, 17 April 1867.
The references are to C. Vogt 1867, Armand de Quatrefages, and Quatrefages de Bréau 1867, a review of Vogt’s work. CD’s annotated copies, bound together, are in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 824–6). Vogt had earlier promised to send a copy of his work (see letter from Carl Vogt, 17 April 1867).
CD refers to the final chapter of C. Vogt 1867, on the origin or causes of microcephaly as these relate to the laws of heredity (C. Vogt 1867, pp. 187–200). CD cited C. Vogt 1867 in Descent 1: 57, 121.
Vogt cited aphids because they seemed to show reversion to characteristics of an earlier generation under certain environmental conditions. He concluded that the transmission of latent characters in higher animals was a similar phenomenon, although the causes were as yet not understood (Vogt 1867, pp. 191–3). In Variation 2: 47–61, CD discussed causes of reversion and transmission of latent characters.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Quatrefages de Bréau, Jean Louis Armand de. 1867. [Review of Mémoire sur les microcéphales ou hommes-singes by C. Vogt.] Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 64: 1226–31.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.

Vogt, Carl. 1867. Mémoire sur les microcéphales ou hommes-singes. Reprinted from Mémoires de l’Institute national genévois, vol. 11. Geneva: Georg, Libraire de l’Institute Genevois.


Thanks for CV’s Mémoire sur les microcéphales [1867]. Curious how CD and CV have come to similar conclusions about atavism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Carl Vogt
Sent from
Source of text
Bibliothèque de Genève (Ms fr. 2188, ff. 302–3)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5600,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15